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Champions #20 Review

by Charles Martin on May 23, 2018

Champions #20 Review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colourist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Consultant: Nyla Innuksuk
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The next chapter of the Champions' story unfolds with surprises aplenty, including a new hero, a complicated villain, and last-minute guest stars. Ooh, it's an exciting time to follow this title!

The issue opens with Amka, the Inuk protester who got into "meet a captive god" trouble last month, bravely digging herself into much deeper trouble by freeing Sila, the incandescent Soul of the North.

We might as well talk about how awesomely Marcio Menyz handles the colours right now. His palette is super-bright throughout this issue, but Sila is truly something special. Sila has a flowing-colours, full-of-stars, white-lines design that makes an arresting impression in every panel. (That linework is also incredibly strong; we can't overlook Sean Izaakse's contributions to the character!)

The visuals throughout this book are impeccable. While Sila gets an appropriately otherworldly look, everything else is scrupulously realistic and magnificently polished. I have to stress how much attention Mr. Izaakse lavishes on details that are dangerously easy to overlook. Ironheart's helmet, for instance, gets a distinctive, complex shape that instantly sets her apart from Iron Man at any angle. Impressive!

Plus the little design gags are delightful: Once the action transitions from the Big Blue Brick onto the ice fields of Nunavut, Kamala and Miles get Champions varsity jackets to keep them warm. Is Miles's Spidey bobble hat a step too far? Nah, that's some dope-☠☠☠ adorability right there. (On the other side of the temperature-management coin: Why is Viv, of all people, shivering on the cover?)

Jim Zub's script is chock full of fascinating ideas. Its finale does a superb job of making the next episode look unmissable. And the introductory scene with Amka and Sila is a barn-burner. In between, though, the brakes get pumped a little too hard when the Champions are confronted with a "villain doing something that looks laudable" conundrum. There's also a tiny dose of global warming info that goes down about as palatably as a broccoli-derived medicinal syrup. It's only a line or two, but dang, does it taste of broccoli.

The good news is, the dialogue remains witty and true to the characters throughout. Riri comparing the current villain situation to her recent experiences with Infamous Iron Doom is outstanding. Sam and Viv also get a moment together that's equal parts heartwarming and hilarious.

Mr. Zub hasn't done much with Ms. Marvel so far. Based on the surprise guest stars who show up at the end of this issue I have great expectations for the next one, though!

Let's talk about the fact that Amka is due to become a Champion herself very soon. The creators have made no secret of this (she'll be called Snowguard), and Nyla Innuksuk has been helping them with design work. In this issue, Amka displays more than enough courage and heart to be a Champion. Come and get your varsity jacket, I say.

In "maximum salt" mode, though, I wonder: Is Amka's tenure on the Champions destined to end in the same limbo where Red Locust wound up? I hope not!

For clarity: I am not saying, "quit adding heroes." I am saying, "bring back Red Locust," okay? Characters that good can and should be allowed to flower on the page. They deserve better than to languish in obscurity as soon as their initial creators move on to other projects.

I also appreciate how Mr. Zub is using Amka's introductory scenes to put us readers in a terrific position on the plot revelation train: We're still far from seeing all the answers, but we're a car or two ahead of the Champions. It's a superb position to be in and it really amplifies the tension of their initial confrontation with the baddie here.

While the pace remains slightly jerky, the Zub/Izaakse edition of the Champions is still a formidable thrill ride and a refreshing improvement on the team's earlier doldrums. This continuation pays dividends on the groundwork in #19 and sets the stage for an impressive climax in #21. We're already loving the build-up, and we wouldn't dream of missing the payoff next month.
 

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside

Comments

Charles Martin's picture
It's slightly ironic that reviewing this, the most Canadian story arc to appear in Marvel comics since John Byrne left the Bullpen, falls to me, one of CTG's token Americans. Come back next month to see if I've been mysteriously replaced with a hoser, eh?